International Business Pre-Flight Checklist

Is Your Company Ready for Takeoff? Follow the lead of experienced airplane pilots: create a pre-flight checklist and then adhere to it as you ready your new international business projects for takeoff.

Selecting a new international sales partner? Localizing product to comply with trade regulations? Deciding where to locate distribution or manufacturing centers? Designing multilingual product packaging? Buying advertising in new outlets? Sponsoring an overseas trade fair? Unless you take time up front to gauge the project’s fit vs. your checklist, your company’s share of international sales deals may soon be filling the other guys’ pipelines.

Here’s step one of a checklist; adapt it to fit your company and industry.

1. Get Executive Thumbs-Up.
Do you have clearance from the tower for takeoff? Your company’s success in international business relies upon complete, enthusiastic support by its leaders. Ensure involvement in each phase of product roadmap, head count, and budget formation, making sure that your C-level executives, board members, and controlling investors review and endorse. That makes for smooth sailing when it comes time to approve company investments in product design, engineering, marketing and sales, and logistics.

In my first role as international sales manager, my VP boss and his boss the CEO were in lockstep with me year in, year out. They kept abreast of international trading partnerships, co-hosted sales meetings, went to bat for me during engineering reviews, and traveled with me to close key sales. We maintained an annual revenue share of 40% from international trade, and added significantly to the market value of the company, which came in handy during mergers and acquisitions.

Next installment: 2. Analyze Market Horizons.

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